Dec 23, 2010

Combat Shock


"Bloody" Buddy Giovinazzo is one of the few directors to have created something so wildly foreign to Troma's usual assortment of tits and bugs. Rearing its ugly head at impoverished communities and the First Blood motif: "...fighting the war at home", Combat Shock, alternately American Nightmares, is a mean sonuvabitch that embraces pockets of nihilism all about its post-Vietnam squalor. Blatantly inspired by both Taxi Driver and Eraserhead, Buddy G. sought to mix thriller and nightmares in this piece of hatred. One can't tell whether Buddy G. was one of the few seething Italian directors with allegory's to spit or if it was the drug-addled production that turned the film into the raging A-bomb that it is still to this day. What's for certain is that Combat Shock appears timeless as unemployment and homelessness continues to steadily rise as our economy comes crashing down all around us.


Obviously the most pertinent discussion would involve me bringing to light the ode to Eraserhead with the deformed infant. A victim of Agent Orange, the baby sports what appears to be two separate eyelid membranes and instead of a cow fetus, Buddy G. resorted to the neater alternative of a puppet - gently coated in what I could assume is baby oil. After the frustrations and nagging of his wife finally take their toll, along with the babies auto-tuned whines, Frankie grabs his jacket and does the same thing he presumably does every day: take a stroll. But on this curious day, the events that transpire eventually become worse and worse, leaving Frankie in a state of despair with no foreseeable escape. Coming straight from the library of Troma left me hesitant to view this film. While Troma stands for independent horror, they also are responsible for putting cameras in peoples hands that needn't be producing motion pictures. There's only so many flatulent lesbian scenes I can sit through before I start to wonder what the fuck happened. Safe to say, Combat Shock is the best piece of work Troma ever put out. Cannibal: The Musical can kindly dismiss itself as meandering dross. 


One point worth noting is the vibrant and "wacky" soundtrack. For some odd reason, Buddy G. acquired the world's most peculiar score to accompany his dismal diatribe. Funky percussion and Casio jams echo through the streets as Frankie strolls past chaos during a "junk-sick dawn." Running into loan-sharks who conduct a child prostitution ring leads us to believe Combat Shock will go down the easy route of fulfilling some vendetta towards society as popularized in Taxi Driver, but alas, nothing of societal worth is to be found. A key unveiling also happens to be the very fragile spirit of Frankie. In a strange turn of events, we witness with voice-overs and images projected onto his disturbed face the real truths of what occurred in Saigon and what became of the victims of the village massacre. Combat Shock is precisely what it's known for: gritty nihilism and a bleak climax. Apart from the negativity, Combat Shock also manages to be a comedy of sorts. The free-falling Frankie is host to some of the most unfortunate events. Add in scenes of brief mingling with rabid Junkies and you got yourself a strange portrait of the seedy underground. What Buddy G. created was certainly an unhappy number but if this didn't boost Troma's credibility, I don't know what could. 


-mAQ

4 comments:

Andrew Green said...

Great review of an intriguing film....
I'll make it my mission to track this one down now.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

We`re just coming up for what would`ve been Heathers 35th birthday, i`m preparing for another one of my "Poltergeist 3" marathons (where i watch the film 6 times in one day instead of only twice) i trust you are as well !!!.

Tyler Moltke said...

One of my favorite nihilistic films. I enjoyed your review. It's ironic, you mentioned the "vibrant and "wacky" soundtrack", which was composed by the lead character and director's brother Rick Giovinazzo.
Combat Shock was Rick Giovinazzo's only acting role and has become one of Hollywood's top paid orchestrators. Have a look at his credits, it's insane. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0002850/

anarky said...

i can say as a veteran with PTSD that this film really hit home...